Nothing I believe creates more of a difference of opinion than when I ask what is extraordinary client service. Frankly some lawyers get it and some don’t. Those that do in my opinion will withstand the test of time. In today’s competitive market, the only thing that makes a difference is the way the client is treated.
Client Service is more than just talking to the client. It begins with the first phone call and it never ends. If you have done your job the client will feel a connection with your firm even when the case is concluded. Maintaining client relationship is on-going even after the case is closed. If you don’t have a defined plan with forms and touches back to the client you aren’t winning This is client relationship marketing (CRM) at its finest.
Where law firms used to hire people who had the necessary legal skills to do the job they are now hiring employees who have people skills. Soft skills are now more important than hard skills. Why? Because if you can’t keep the client or you can’t get referrals or repeat business it doesn’t matter what your legal skills are.
I work with many law firms in the area of client relationship development. The hardest hurdle to get beyond is to make everyone in the firm from the top to the bottom understand that the client gets head of the line privileges. I personally believe that if a client calls they deserve to talk to who they asked for. And yet I have many lawyers tell me this is impossible. It only is impossible if you don’t make the leap that if the client comes first then the client comes first.
I had a law firm implement the We love our clients philosophy. All phone calls had to be taken when they occurred. No one went home unless all calls were returned. If a call couldn’t be taken the truth was told but the call returned the same day. If an attorney was truly out of the office the entire day someone else took the call and provided temporary assistance until the acting attorney returned. All new client callers got to talk to an attorney immediately. Two things occurred which were documented statistically.
The first was the amount of phone calls from clients began to decrease. I believe this was because their answers were being provided immediately and the clients felt secure with the firm.
The second was that new cases increased. This is obviously because new clients want to talk with someone right when they call and be seen within a twenty-four hour period. Their case is important to them and if you don’t help them someone else will.
The next time you are about to say you deliver extraordinary client service, ask yourself how?